“Cosmetic Drudgery,” a short story

You couldn’t miss it.

Todd got bug-eyed and pointed.

What’d you do to your lip?

Kelsea paled, spun on her red high heels and clacked down the hall.

The next morning at 9 a.m. Todd’s supervisor called as he was working his way through monthly expense reports in his cubicle.

Could I see you in my office?

When Todd got there he saw the woman from Human Resources looking like her cat got sick on the shag carpet. His supervisor sat behind her desk wearing a turtleneck sweater and a scowl.

We’re going to have to suspend you, she said.

What did I do?

We do not tolerate male employees making inappropriate comments about female employees’ bodies.

What did I say?

You asked Kelsea what she did to her lip.

So what did she do to her lip?

Todd, please.

I’m serious.

Kelsea has been receiving Botox treatments that are personal and none of your business.

I thought her dog bit her.


Her top lip swelled up like she chomped on a hornet’s nest.

Do you want me to call security?

How was I supposed to know she flipped her lips?

You weren’t.

I thought she hurt herself.

She didn’t.

I was concerned, is all.

The company is concerned about providing a safe and secure work environment, Todd.

I didn’t know Kelsea would take offense.

That’s why we’re ordering six months of sensitivity training for you.

What about when I chipped in for a wedding present for gay Allen in accounting?

Don’t push back on this, Todd.

OK, you win.

This is not about winning, Todd. This is about eradicating daily acts of micro-aggression in the work place.


Thank you, Todd.

He stood.

He turned.

Before he left he turned back and spoke to the Human Resources officer in a calm, caring voice.

By the way, you look a lot better with your hair dyed black than you did with those peroxide roots sticking out of your head.